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The Mediterranean Sea: incomparable wealth in steep decline

27. September 2017 - 2:00
Rome, Italy – Along its 46,000km coastline, the Mediterranean Sea supports around 150 million people living along its shores. The report Reviving the Economy of the Mediterranean Sea: Actions for a sustainable future, launched today, shows that the Mediterranean Sea plays a fundamental role in the region's economy but that the sea's underlying natural asset base – which supports much of the economy and community wellbeing – is eroding.
 
The report, produced by WWF in association with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the most focused review yet of the Mediterranean Sea's natural asset base. It reveals the enormous benefits that the Mediterranean Sea brings to the region's economy and proposes six strategic priorities to achieve a sustainable future for the Mediterranean.
 
The report maps the contribution of the sea to the region in new ways and finds that the overall value of the Mediterranean's natural assets is at least US$5.6 trillion. This value draws on assets including productive coastlines, fisheries and seagrass. The sea's annual estimated economic output is at least US$450 billion.
 
If the Mediterranean Sea was its own economy, it would be the fifth largest in the region – bigger than most of the region's national economies – generating about as much annual economic output as Algeria, Greece and Morocco combined.
 
The report also reveals, however, that many principal assets in the Mediterranean Sea are declining because of unsustainable exploitation and that the use of these resources is accelerating. The report focusses on the fisheries sector and the rapidly growing tourism industry and shows that the health of the Mediterranean Sea is at a turning point.
 
"This new analysis adds considerable weight to the case for conservation to be an even higher priority for Mediterranean leaders. We have seen good commitments in the past but an objective analysis shows that we are running out of time and that we need action on a much greater scale and urgency if we are to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for the Mediterranean.", said Demetres Karavellas, CEO of WWF-Greece.
 
In his foreword, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said, "developing a strong and sustainable Blue Economy for the Mediterranean region will greatly depend on keeping our sea, coastlines, and marine ecosystems healthy, and where possible to restore degraded ecosystems. We cannot continue to erode the very assets that Mediterranean cultures and economies depend on."
 
BCG Partner and Managing Director, Nicolas Kachaner, said, "With this analysis, no one can be in any doubt about the importance of carefully managing the sea assets that underpin so much of the Mediterranean economy. A prudent economic approach would see strong conservation actions rolled out across the region to secure its natural assets, otherwise the region's economic foundations could seriously be threatened."
 
"We are seeing many fish populations, coastal areas and ocean ecosystems coming under immense pressure around the world and in important regions like the Mediterranean.  We also are witnessing an unprecedented focus on the ocean and leaders in the Mediterranean and beyond can seize this moment to commit to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the global climate agreement of 2015. There is no time to lose." adds John Tanzer, Leader for Oceans at WWF.
 
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Notes to editors:
 
For two sectors, fisheries and tourism, the report offers recommendations for policy makers, investors and developers to improve their sustainability and to shift towards a Blue Economy development model that will sustain ocean assets and contribute to the region's prosperity.
 
Tourism is the greatest contributor to the region's economies, accounting for 11% of Mediterranean countries' cumulative gross domestic product (GDP). However, the current mass tourism model – which often involves aggressive coastal development, excessive water and energy consumption and unsustainable management of solid waste and sewage – has degraded both the marine and the coastal environment. Tourism, according to the report, represents more than 90% of the annual ocean-based economic output of the Mediterranean. A predicted growth in tourism will lead to potential conflicts for the use of space in coastal areas.
The Mediterranean fisheries sector, another key contributor to the region's economy, has been in a deepening crisis in recent years. It still has an estimated collective worth of over US$3 billion and directly employs more than 180,000 people.
 
The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella wrote the preface to the new report and the launch is timed to foster conversation at the Our Ocean conference in Malta in early October, hosted by the European Union.  WWF will hold a side event at the conference to present the key findings of the report.
 
WWF at the Our Ocean Conference: WWF will be present at the Our Ocean Conference with a delegation of experts and will organise two side events. A WWF media pack will be distributed ahead of the Conference. For media enquiries and information, please contact: Stefania Campogianni and Maud Busuttil
 
The complete report can be found at: ocean.panda.org
A series of infographics and photos accompanying the report are available here.

CONTACTS:Maud Busuttil
Communications Manager
WWF MMI

email: mbusuttil@wwfmedpo.org
phone: +39 346 387 3237Eric Gregoire
Global Media Relations Manager
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

email: gregoire.eric@bcg.com
phone: +1 617 850 3783Mauro Randone
Project Manager
WWF Mediterranean

email: mrandone@wwf.medpo.org
phone: +39 3472972856

French-led Global Pact for the Environment opportunity to strengthen momentum on climate action

19. September 2017 - 2:00

NEW YORK (19 September 2017) – As climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation continue to impact the wellbeing of millions worldwide, the Global Pact for the Environment, presented by French President Emmanuel Macron at the UN General Assembly today, should enjoy the support of all world leaders, urges WWF.

The initiative, first announced at a conference in Paris in June, offers a high-level platform to not only maintain the global momentum on climate action but further enhance the world's environmental ambitions.

WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said: "In the past years, UN member states have made history towards a sustainable future, embracing the Sustainable Development Goals which assert a total interdependency between the environment, society and economy, and committing unequivocally to fight climate change. But now is not the time to be complacent. The science is showing us we need to do more to bend the curves of global warming and nature loss – and fast. WWF urges member states to support the global pact for the environment and take a step forward toward ensuring the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all. We need to do more on climate as well as bring the loss of nature higher in the political and development debate. There will be no chance to meet the ambition of the SDGs in a destabilized climate and degraded natural environment."
 

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice said:"Never was the time more opportune to support a global pact for the environment. We face incontrovertible evidence of the loss of biodiversity, weakening nature's ability to provide the services on which human survival and wellbeing depends. And we need to do this by 2020, when there will be a convergence of milestones associated with important global instruments such as the Aichi biodiversity targets, the Sustainable Development Goals and the global Paris climate agreement, which can become a tipping point for real change. The global pact can and should serve as a platform from which to build a strong collective global vision that aligns each of these global milestones."

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For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org.

New IPCC report to include science of attributing extreme events to climate change

10. September 2017 - 2:00
BERLIN, Germany (11 September 2017) - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has approved the outlines of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) at a meeting in Montreal this week.
 
Dr Stephen Cornelius, Chief Adviser on Climate Change at WWF-UK said: "IPCC Assessment Reports are the authoritative source of information on climate change. The wide-ranging reports cover all aspects of climate change – from the physical science, to impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and mitigation.
 
"With flooding, hurricanes and other extreme weather causing devastating impacts on people and ecosystems, an important section of the report will be the science of attributing extreme events to a changing climate.
 
"The reports will look at climate impacts already being felt as well as projections as the climate changes in the future. It is global in scope, covering land and ocean from the equator to the Poles. It importantly recognizes nature including looking impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems and biodiversity."
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice, said: "The IPCC Assessment Reports contribute enormously to our understanding of the science of climate change. Their Sixth Assessment Report will come at a time the world is grappling with widespread climate impacts. How we better understand the science will help us to find solutions to keeping warming to below the 1.5°C set out in the global climate Paris Agreement."
 
Notes for editors:
  • The IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.
  • The 46th Session of the Panel was held in Montreal, Canada, 6-10 September 2017.  Here, the three IPCC Working Group contributions to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) and the broad outline of the Synthesis Report were agreed.
  • The IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report will be released in 2021 – 2022.  
 For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org  

Mondi and WWF extend strategic partnership by three years

6. September 2017 - 2:00
Mondi Group and WWF International announced today that they have renewed their global partnership for a further three years.

 In 2014 Mondi entered into a three-year global partnership with WWF, focusing on promoting environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sector. This global partnership has now been extended by another three years, becoming the longest standing WWF International partnership of its kind.

This partnership evolved from the collaboration between Mondi and WWF South Africa through the WWF-Mondi Wetlands Programme, and is a clear signal that Mondi is committed to demonstrating that responsible environmental stewardship makes good business sense.

 Phase II of the partnership will embed and extend Mondi's stewardship of forests, climate & energy and freshwater, with the work being organised around three areas:
  •  Ecosystem Stewardship – with a special focus on sustainable forestry development in north west Russia and collective water stewardship activities in South Africa.
  •  Manufacturing Stewardship – to demonstrate Mondi's ongoing commitment to reducing its freshwater footprint and its contribution to a low-carbon economy by further reducing Mondi's energy footprint.
  • Product Stewardship – via responsible sourcing of wood and fibre, and working to increase the availability of credibly certified fibre.
 Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International says "Forests are providing some of the most vital nature services that underpin the global economy and are critical for supporting the lives and prosperity of local people, communities and humanity globally. If protected and managed responsibly these key ecosystems can continue to provide economic and social benefits now and for future generations, while contributing to the local and global ecological balance essential to all life on Earth.  The partnership with Mondi focuses on achieving this, and we are very excited to take forward this new phase of collaboration."

Peter Oswald, Mondi Group CEO says, "This international partnership contributes to our goal of growing responsibly and sharing best practice in our industry. We've worked closely with WWF for many years and this partnership continues to give us a great platform for exploring sustainable solutions with a trusted partner. The work of the partnership is focused on the future and as we celebrate Mondi's 50th anniversary this year, we're able to recognise our past successes while firmly keeping our focus on the future."

Ultimately, this partnership is working to ensure that forests continue to be an ongoing sustainable source of fibre within a world enriched by extensive, resilient forest landscapes benefiting biodiversity, climate and human well-being. 

Judge suspends Brazil government's decision to open up a national reserve for mining

31. August 2017 - 2:00
The substitute judge of the 21st Regional Federal Court of the Federal District (TRF1), Rolando Valcir Spanholo, granted on Tuesday, Aug. 29, an injunction that suspends the decree of the Brazilian government that abolishes the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca).
 
The request stemmed from a Public Civil Action that argues that the decree signed by President Temer puts protected areas located in the Renca area - a territory of 47,000 square kilometers between Pará and Amapá - at risk and leaves sections of the region - about 30 per cent of the total area - open to mining activity.
 
On Wednesday, the Attorney General's Office (AGU) said it will appeal the decision.
 
With potential for extraction of gold, iron, manganese and tantalum, Renca partially overlaps with nine federal and state protected areas: Tumucumaque Mountains National Park, Paru and Amapá State Forests, Maicuru Biological Reserve, Estação The Jari Ecological Reserve, the Rio Cajari Extractive Reserve, the Iratapuru River Sustainable Development Reserve and the Waiãpi Indigenous Lands and Rio Paru d`Este.
 
That is the potential conflict. In most of these areas, mining is prohibited - although there are gaps in legislation that may set precedents for mineral extraction in sustainable use protected areas.
 
But even if it happens outside the confines of conservation units, mining activity, by law, must be carried out in a way that respects the environment and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities living in the region.
 
This potential conflict was announced by WWF-Brazil in May of this year through a document that anticipated the stimulus package for the mineral sector prepared by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. In July, a new WWF report on the Renca situation outlined the most sensitive areas and possible risks of opening up large-scale business activities in the region.
 
And yet, the opening took place without any previous debate with society. "The government did not call on society to discuss a form of sustainable intervention in the Renca area. It simply met the industry's demands, bypassing environmental and social interests," says Jaime Gesisky, a specialist in Public Policy at WWF-Brazil.
 
According to news published on the website of the Observatory of Climate (OC), the president's decision bypassed even an opinion of the Ministry of the Environment that requested the maintenance of the mineral reserve due to the risk of increased deforestation in the region. The opinion points to the risk of increased deforestation in the region.
 
According to the MMA, of the 46,501 square kilometers of Renca, 45,767 square kilometers are covered by forest and 206 square kilometers are rivers. The deforested area is 528 square kilometers, or 1.1 per cent of the total.
 
In the opinion, MMA technicians drew attention to recent changes in Brazilian legislation which favour mining in protected areas. The new Mining Code, now converted into law, does not provide for the prior authorization of environmental agencies for mining concessions.
 
In addition, the new Forest Code opens the possibility that mining can take place in areas of permanent preservation, which is enough for the Executive to declare the activity to be of "public interest", notes the OC news.
 
And this pressure, in the understanding of MMA, can lead to more deforestation in the region, as well as induce the migration of people to the area and impact the traditional communities that live there, generating violence and degradation.
 
In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office in Amapá (MPF / AP) also asked the Federal Court for an emergency injunction to suspend the effects of the decree that extinguished Renca.  According to the suit, in addition to contradicting the Federal Constitution, the government measure puts at risk the preservation of the environment and violates the fundamental rights of the Amazonians, especially the right to prior consultation.

For more information, contact:
Gabriela Yamaguchi, Communications & Engagement Director 
Tel: +55 11 976 774 608
Email: gabrielayamaguchi@wwf.org.br

381 new species discovered in the Amazon

31. August 2017 - 2:00
  • New report reveals that, between 2014-2015, a new plant or animal species was discovered in the Amazon every 2 days - the fastest rate this century;
  • New species include a fire-tailed titi monkey, honeycomb patterned stingray, pink river dolphin, a yellow-moustached lizard and a bird named after former US president Barack Obama;
  • WWF is calling for urgent action to protect the forest, following a recent presidential decree in Brazil aiming to abolish an Amazonian reserve the size of Switzerland.
Sao Paolo, 31 August 2017 - A new WWF and Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development report, released on 30 August, reveals that a new animal or plant species is discovered in the Amazon every 2 days, the fastest rate to be observed this century. The findings come as huge parts of the forest are increasingly under threat, sparking further concern over the irreversible - and potentially catastrophic - consequences unsustainable policy and decision-making could have.
 
New Species of Vertebrates and Plants in the Amazon 2014-2015, details 381 new species that were discovered over 24 months, including 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals (2 of which are fossils), 19 reptiles and 1 bird.
 
The latest 2014-2015 survey indicates the highest rate of discovery yet, with a species identified every 1.9 days. The average number of new species found in the Amazon in WWF's 1999-2009 report was 111 a year, or one new species every three days, while the 2010-2013 report revealed that at least 441 were discovered, which works out at a rate of one new species every 3.3 days.
 
A great enigma
Ricardo Mello, coordinator of WWF-Brazil Amazon Programme, says that life within this biome is still a great enigma: "We're in 2017, verifying the existence of new species and even though resources are scarce, we are seeing an immense variety and richness of biodiversity. This is a signal that we still have much to learn about the Amazon".
 
Mello also states that the new findings should compel decision-makers, both public and private, to think about the irreversible impacts caused by large-scale projects such as roads and hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.
 
"This biodiversity needs to be known and protected. Studies indicate that the greatest economic potential of a region such as the Amazon is the inclusion of biodiversity in the technological solutions of a new development model, including development of cures for diseases, relying on new species for food purposes, such as superfoods. "
 
The report comes the week after Brazil's government passed a decree allowing mining in the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), a huge protected area the size of Switzerland which encompasses nine protected areas. Opening protected areas of the forest up for deforestation and mining, could be disastrous for wildlife and local cultures and indigenous communities. While the decree has since been revised to clarify that mining will not be allowed in conservation or indigenous areas within the former reserve, following national and global outcry, challenges persist for the world's largest tropical forest.
 
Informing conservation strategies
For João Valsecchi do Amaral, technical and scientific director at the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, the new knowledge brought by this report will help to identify areas or species that are reeling under pressures, to monitor this biodiversity and establish new strategies of conservation.
 
"For the conservation of species, it is necessary to know what they are, how many there are and their distribution. These are key details to ensure that ecological and evolutionary processes are understood and maintained to ensure the species survival", he explained.
 
Protected areas
The creation of protected areas is among the strategies cited in the report to lessen the negative impact of the development that the Amazon is and will continue to be subject to.
 
The description of new species and the dissemination of scientific results can help raise public awareness and understanding on the importance of the Amazon and the need for greater and more comprehensive knowledge of its biodiversity. They can also form the basis for strategies related to the establishment of protected areas and public conservation policies.
 
Due to its vast size, variety of species and diversity of habitats, the gaps in scientific knowledge about the Amazon are still enormous. The majority of species recordings are based on observations and collections made along the main rivers, near big cities and in the few protected areas most frequently studied. As a result, new studies on the Amazon's biodiversity, particularly those conducted in the forest's most remote areas, continue to reveal large numbers of species that are as yet unknown to science – and humanity.
 
New species discovered
As well as recording the new species of vertebrates and plants discovered in the Amazon between January 2014 and December 2015, the report also includes an update on species identified in a previous 2010- 2013 report.
 
The report, which consolidates the findings from a number of different researchers, highlights some of the most fascinating finds, including:
  • A new species of pink river dolphin (Inia Araguaiaensis) - Estimated to have a population of around 1,000 individuals, the species is under threat from the construction of hydroelectric dams, and industrial, agricultural and cattle ranching activities. Pink river dolphins are an important part of the local culture around the Amazon, with a number of myths and legends around them.
  • Fire-tailed titi monkey (Plecturocebus miltoni) – This striking monkey from the southern Amazon owes its name to its long bright orange tail. The species is under threat from deforestation.
  • A bird that pays tribute to the Brazilian rubber tapper (Zimmerius chicomendesi) – Discovered after its unknown call attracted attention, this bird's name - Chico's Tyrannulet - is a tribute to the rubber tapper and environmentalist Francisco Alves Mendes Filho. Better-known as Chico Mendes, he was a leader of the rubber tapping communities, and played a key role in opening the world's eyes to the problems faced by the Amazon.
  • A bird named after former US President Barack Obama and found in a huge area between Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador (Nystalus obamai);
  • Another bird named after the famous anthropologist and explorer Marechal Cândido Rondon, found in the South of Amazonas (Hypocnemis rondoni);
  • A stingray which has "honeycombs" on its surface, registered in Rondônia, in the region of Alto Madeira (Potamotrygon limai);
  • A bird found at the south of Amazonas, in the Sucunduri region, where WWF-Brazil maintains conservation projects (Tolmomyias sucunduri).
The Amazon contains nearly a third of the earth's remaining tropical rainforests and, despite covering only around 1 per cent of the planet's surface, it is estimated to be home to 10 per cent of the earth's known species. Globally, it is estimated that 80 per cent of species are yet to be identified.
 
The current rate of human-related extinction of species is between 1,000 and 10,000 times that of the natural rate of extinction. Knowing the total number of species in the region provides a baseline to monitor current and future biodiversity losses. The discovery of new species is important for environmental and natural resource management, and can guide the establishment of protected areas to safeguard wildlife and the communities that depend on these resources.
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For more information, please contact:
Gabriela Yamaguchi | WWF-Brazil | gabrielayamaguchi@wwf.org.br; +55 11 976-774-608
Jorge Eduardo Dantas | WWF-Brazil | jorgeoliveira@wwf.org.br; +55 (61) 98165-6818 / (92) 3364-3844 / (92) 99136-2317
 

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